The Ascension of the Lord
Today we celebration the Ascension of the Lord, when Jesus was taken to heaven on the 40th day after Easter. Before he left, Jesus instructed his Apostles that true discipleship is neither shaped by His physical presence, nor his physical absence.
Two things are happening. Although Jesus appears to be leaving his Church, by sending the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the Lord is present through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit now guides disciples interiorly through His spiritual gifts. But, and this is the second point, Jesus remains in His Church in the Holy Eucharist.
In a beautiful message from Mother Mary we are told that “as Jesus is truly in Heaven, so also is He truly present on earth in the Eucharist: with his Body, his Blood, his Soul and his Divinity.” That makes this place of worship a very special place. We can come to visit and be with Jesus in the church and He is truly present here, just like He is in heaven. No need to look into the sky, He is right here!
So also can we understand how special it is to receive Jesus at communion! We receive Jesus as He is in heaven yet hidden under the appearance of bread. Mother Mary says that this church –because Jesus is present in the Eucharist for us– should be “once again be the heart and centre of [our] whole life.” I love coming here to be with Jesus.
And Our Lady asks priests to “Help everyone to approach the Eucharistic Jesus in a worthy manner, by cultivating in [you]/the faithful an awareness of sin, by inviting you to present yourselves for the sacrament of Holy Communion in the state of grace, by educating you in the practice of frequent confession, which becomes necessary before receiving the Eucharist for those who are in mortal sin.” And this goes for me too! If I do something wrong, I go to confession before communing with Jesus.
Our Holy Mother laments that the “Church is deeply wounded by the multiplication of sacrilegious Communions!” Poor Mother Mary and poor Jesus who still gives himself to those who don’t truly love him. Let us do better than that so we don’t make Jesus or Mary sad.
Rather today, as we celebrate Jesus Ascending into heaven let us not be sad. In fact, let’s rejoice: “as Jesus is truly in Heaven, so also is He truly present on earth in the Eucharist” in every Catholic church in every nation. What a beautiful mystery, and soon those who are properly disposed are about to receive him –as He is in heaven– in the Eucharist.